Anthony Braxton - Town Hall 1972 (1972), 7/10

Almost undoubtedly one of Braxton's most important live recordings apart from later works and apart from sections of the third composition, it is simply blissful. This is Braxton at his peak of chamber composition and live performance potential, he and his small group of musicians including the talented Dave Holland on bass and Phillip Wilson on drums create some fascinating and tremendously enjoyable music. There are some stellar performances just after this stage of Braxton’s career, but none reach this level of unique playing style and passion, transcending even some of his greatest live performances of recorded compositions. Wonderfully ominous and brooding, both sides are more than worth a listen and explore themes that are seldom approached by such talent. It all comes together to form one of my personal favorite live recordings bar none, and some of the best free improvisation passages you will find in jazz. While I can appreciate the foundational background from the AACM and the bold statements being explored, Jeanne Lee’s performances are attention grabbing but can sometimes mismatch with the momentum of the instrumentals, to my ear, and create a true dissonance that is unpleasant and unfortunate, rather than worth revisiting for its detail. The walloping punch and audible sensual passion from the first few pieces are met with this lagging one that explores too much unfounded ground and results in an energy sucking piece right at the tail end of an otherwise blistering and wholly successful record. This is a very subjective evaluation and especially so considering I find much of this style to be successful, but jagged and disorienting on this particular recording, maybe partially due to its live setting. Still, the sections that are successful are tremendously moving and have a nuance worth exploring further as does all of Braxton’s important work.